Wednesday, March 3, 2010

PathWays PA Special Budget E-Alert - March 3, 2010

Update

State Budget

While the General Assembly is wrapping up hearings on the Governor’s budget proposal, February has proved to be another bad month for revenue collections for the General Fund. Revenue is falling short of projections by $102 million. Pennsylvania’s current overall shortfall is $477 million.

The Governor had projected a shortfall of $525 million in his proposal. With four more months in the fiscal year, it is likely the shortfall will be much more than that. In order to balance the books, the Administration may have to make more budget cuts to the current (2009-2010) budget.



Philadelphia Budget

Mayor Nutter is scheduled to give his budget address at 10:00 AM on March 4, 2010, in City Hall Room 400. With a deficit of $125 to $150 million, it is likely the Mayor will be proposing major cuts to programs and funding.

Last year the city dealt with a deficit through the delay of tax reductions; cuts to pools, libraries, and the Fire Departments; a temporary (five-year) increase of the sales tax; and a deferment of payments into the city pension plan. This year, there have been a number of ideas proposed to reduce the deficit including a trash collection fee and a tax on soft drinks. While more budget cuts may be made, the Mayor and members of City Council have stated that they want to preserve services that are valued by the citizens of Philadelphia.

After the Mayor delivers his budget, City Council will begin hearings on the proposal. Citizen testimony will be allowed on certain days and some meeting may be held in communities on weekends or after regular business hours. In order to pass a budget, the Mayor and Council must agree on budget terms and a majority of Council - nine of the 17 members - must approve it.

Did you know...

That in Pennsylvania, more than 6,300 businesses are involved with more than 70 Industry Partnerships across the state?

HB 2230, currently in the House Committee on Labor Relations, will institutionalize the Industry Partnership program to ensure that this important program remains in Pennsylvania for years to come. If you or your clients have benefited from Industry Partnerships, please let your legislators know by emailing or calling their offices.



Action Alerts

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Essential Services

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Essential Services is a broad-based coalition of over 80 nonprofits, local government and private sector agencies that provide essential services to improve the quality of life for people of this region. Pennsylvania’s budget impasse last year had a devastating impact on children, families, seniors, people with disabilities, other vulnerable members of our communities, and the organizations and agencies that serve them.

The Coalition has come together again this year to urge the Governor and the General Assembly to:
  • Spare cuts to the state’s most vulnerable residents in 2011 and pass a budget that provides adequate support for Pennsylvania’s children, families, seniors, people with disabilities and other vulnerable populations; and
  • Use additional sources of revenue to protect all Pennsylvanians and the organizations that serve our communities.

Three Things the Coalition is Asking Everyone to Do:

  1. Write to your House and Senate members. Tell them how the proposed cuts would impact the people your organization serves. Urge them to increase state revenue to fund the essential services your organization provides.
  2. Visit House and Senate members while they are home on recess.
  3. Urge members of your staff, board of directors and consumers to get involved.

Your organization can also join the Southeastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Essential Services to stay informed and participate in collective budget action throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania. Go to http://pabudgetnow.wordpress.com for more information.


Did you know...

That Federal Medicaid Matching Percentage (FMAP) and State Fiscal Stabilization funds has not only helped to provide 2 million Pennsylvanians with health care services, but it has also slowed the loss of jobs from state hospitals, nursing homes and non-profit human service agencies? Without this funding, more severe cuts would have been made to the already strapped budget.

If you or your clients would be affected by more cuts, please write to urge your members of Congress to support a two quarter extension of the federal FMAP increase to enable Pennsylvania to preserve services and jobs until the recovery strengthens.


Help Restore Cuts to the State Supplemental Payments for Pennsylvania’s Elderly, Disabled, and Blind

Until February 2010, Pennsylvanians qualifying for SSI received an additional state supplement ranging from $27.00 for single person to $43.70 for a couple. As a result of the 2009-2010 budget, the state supplement has now been cut each month by $5 for a single person and $10 for a couple.

More than 345,000 low income, severely disabled, elderly, and/or blind households receive the supplement, including 67,000 disabled children. Even before this change, SSI recipients had incomes of 78 percent of the federal poverty level, or $11,365 for a family of two. While $5-$10 per month might not seem like a lot, it represents a missed meal, a co-pay that cannot be met, or a para-transit ride that cannot be taken.

Groups across the state have been working to have these cuts restored. For more information about coalition efforts to restore the State Supplemental Payments, please email Jonathan Stein at jstein@clsphila.org and mfroehlich@clsphila.org to be added to the email list.

To show support for the restoration of these funds, an event will be held on March 16 in Harrisburg at the Capitol Rotunda. This will include a press conference and Lobbying Day. For more information about this event and the SSP cuts in general, please email jstein@clsphila.org.

Don’t forget you can also contact your state legislators and urge them to find ways to restore this cut.


Did you know...

That in October of 2009, 197,150 children in Pennsylvanians were enrolled in CHIP, which was an increase of 13,259 children since just January of 2009?

CHIP has become a vital program that parents and children rely upon when they are unable to find affordable coverage. If you or your clients have benefited from CHIP, please contact your representatives today and let them know how important this program is.



Without State Legislative Action, CHIP Will End in This Year

Pennsylvania is a leader among states when it comes to children’s health coverage. CHIP fills a void for families who cannot afford or do not have access to health insurance for their children.

However, unless the General Assembly takes action, CHIP will end this year. The House is about to consider SB 237, which will keep CHIP in operation through 2013. If you believe in the need for CHIP, please speak up to support this vital program that provides health insurance to nearly 200,000 children by contacting your representatives today.


Rally for a Smart Budget that Preserves Essential Services

While Governor Rendell’s 2010-2011 budget relies on both reduced spending and revenue enhancements, Pennsylvania’s working families, non-profits, and vulnerable citizens have already been affected by the result of reduced spending in last year’s budget process.

In light of the broader economic conditions our country faces, it is clear that we cannot simply continue to eliminate support to our communities to balance the budget.

You can show your support for a smart budget that includes revenue growth to protect our most vulnerable, while planning for the future. Join people from around the state in rallying for a smart and fair budget, followed by legislative visits and a budget summit (see info about PBPC’s Budget Summit below).

WHERE: Pennsylvania Capitol Building Rotunda
WHEN: March 9th – 11:00 – 12:00

For more information, contact Kevin Douglas at Kevin@rhd.org.



The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center’s Annual Budget Summit

Join the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center for a mini-summit on the state budget. They will take an in-depth look at the budget (this year and next) and discuss the options for protecting core services and preserving our long-term economic success.

WHEN: Tuesday, March 9, 2010, 1-4:30 p.m.
WHERE: Grace Methodist Church, Harrisburg PA

Learn the latest about:
  • Governor Rendell's Proposed Budget for 2010-11
  • Communications Strategies That Win
  • Understanding Sales Tax Modernization and Other Revenue Options
  • Pennsylvania's Pension Challenges
  • Protecting the Safety Net: Public Welfare Under Siege
Registration is free, and lunch is included. Register for the Budget Summit today!

If you have any questions, email Kathleen Daugherty or call her at 717-255-7159.


Did you know...

Every dollar spent on the Child Care Subsidy Program generates an additional $1.91 in economic activity nationally?

If you or your clients believe that during a recession is not the time to cut a program that allows people to work, please contact your state legislators today and ask them to take a balanced approach to the budget this year.


What else you can do:
  • Over 350,000 people are on the waiting list for adultBasic, yet the cost to buy into the program has increased 80 percent and coverage will not expand beyond 50,000 people in the proposed budget. If you or your clients believe that when 12 percent of adults in Pennsylvania are without health care, programs that assist them are essential and need to be expanded, please contact your state legislators today and let them know.
  • For every $1 Pennsylvania invests in early childhood programs, more than $2 is circulated throughout our local economies. If you or your clients have been impacted by cuts or proposed cuts to early childhood programs, please contact your state legislators today and let them know how important the programs are to you and to Pennsylvania.
  • The Industry Partnership program has leveraged $55 Million in matching funds for its work in helping businesses create a skilled workforce. If you or your clients have been impacted by the Industry Partnership program, please contact your state legislators today and let them know how important the program to you and to Pennsylvania.
  • The greatest predictor of a child's future academic success is the literacy level of the child's mother. Adult education and family literacy programs are especially important during this recession to ensure that families have the opportunity to gain the education they need to become self-sufficient. If you or your clients have been impacted by the need for literacy, please contact your state legislators today and let them know.
  • At least 16,000 families are on the waiting list to receive the child care subsidy.  The subsidy allows parents to afford to work by assisting them with the expense of child care. If you or your clients have been impacted by the need for child care, please contact your state legislators today and let them know.

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